There was only one review for The Kissing Game, but it was undeniably a bad one. Simon Reade praised a good cast, but was very disappointed by the writing: he found the play patronising and preachy, trying to warn “the kids” away from sex with the inevitability of contracting AIDS.
My stance on reviews has always been that you have to treat the bad the same as you treat the good. Part of the reason I write under a sort-of pseudonym is to give myself the distance to ignore whatever reviewers say about my work. But I think that might be my longest running mistake. Simon misidentified my motives for writing The Kissing Game, and assigned a moral to it that I hadn’t intended. That made it easier to dodge what he said, and ignore the fact that he came to those conclusions only because the evidence is there front and centre in the script.
If I’d taken the time to think about the review and examine how Simon had decided things about me and my play that weren’t what I wanted, then I would have become a better writer much quicker. I know that way madness lies, but perhaps ignoring reviews isn’t the clever strategy I thought it was.